Monday, June 12, 2006

Rotring Core Mechanical Pencil Review

Those of you who have read this blog for a while will be aware of my recent confusion over the future of the Rotring brand. For a while most retail websites had the Rotring pencils in their clearance or end-of-line stock, some noted Rotring as discontinued and one claimed to have obtained the last stock of Rotring pencils available in the world. That retailer no longer makes that claim, and it seems Rotring will be continuing in one form or another, although it’s still all rather confusing. During this time I purchased a Rotring Core pencil because I was afraid it was now or never; that Sanford were, for some unknown reason, killing off the Rotring name and I’d always regret not having a Core, even though I didn’t really want one when they were feely available! Maybe that was the plan, threaten to take Rotring away and everyone would rush out and buy one!

The Rotring Core mechanical pencil comes in several different decorations, mine is the 0.7mm Tecnor, which reminds me of a shark with that wave-tooth pattern on the body. The body is fully rubberised in black and blue, with metal tip, cap and pocket-clip. This style is obviously aiming for a modern electronic irreverent sort of look, presumably to appeal to a younger market segment - the writing instrument for those who wear “Rugged Shark” or “Rip Curl” apparel.

So, what about all that rubber! Well it’s a hard compound and has that rubber feel, but it’s not particularly “grippy”. The body tapers quite markedly and the flared out section at the front of the grip section really is necessary as otherwise I think you would end up slipping right on down the barrel. The flare is possibly a little low down for me, but it does ensure a good solid positive grip. One thing I do wonder about is the life-expectancy of the rubber. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was starting to degrade in 10 years time, but then that would be 10 years of good use and seems a fair exchange for your hard-earned cash.

The lead sleeve is a fairly solid affair, definitely designed for writing. It is fully retractable back inside the tip which then leaves a very blunt pocket safe end on the pencil. The pocket clip is a bit of a disappointment. It’s one of those heavy steel wire ones that doesn’t really have any spring in it. It works, but it could be so much better with some sort of spring loading. I think the best point about this pocket clip is that it does stop the pencil rolling on your desk and you can use it as a sort of rest or stand. The weight of the Core is about what you would expect for a short stubby substantial pencil. It's a real "handfull" and there's no surprise that it’s “top heavy”.

The Core has that huge cap on top so obviously it is a push-top ratchet mechanism. Very occasionally the cap doesn’t seem to stay on that well, but most times it is a good tight fit. As you would expect, there is an eraser underneath that cap, but it’s another bit of a disappointment. Whilst it is a reasonably large size – about 7mm diameter (¼ inch) with 30mm (1 1/4inch) of usable length, the compound is one of those sticky ones and it’s housed in an unusual split tube sort of holder. I feel that a twist out eraser would have been a far better choice. You pull the locking collar off the split tube and then pull the eraser out to access the lead refill tube.

So overall I have some mixed feelings about the Rotring Core.

  • Best Points – Certainly an unusual looking pencil. The flared out flange on the lower end of the grip section locks you in place.
  • Not So Good Points – The eraser is a disappointment for a “big” eraser.
  • Price Range – Low / Mid.

Dimensions – Length 138mm, diameter 19mm at widest part and 10mm at the narrowest part of grip section. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.

Well, although it’s now part of Sanford, Rotring is a German pencil company, so we need the German with an NZ link. Johann Franz Julius von Haast (1822 – 1887) was a German explorer, geologist, naturalist, writer and museum founder who arrived in NZ in 1858 and carried out many official geological surveys of New Zealand, tirelessly exploring and naming much of the country in the process. He was also interested in natural history and became a fellow of the Royal Society, and some say he was the true founder of science in New Zealand. As a geologist, I’m sure he would have been happy to discover a huge graphite deposit and start a NZ pencil industry, but no such luck. Perhaps his most well known legacy would be his name on an important alpine pass, amongst the many geographical features that bear his name.


Anonymous said...

Well... For me, the Rotring Core is definitively not one of the best mechanical pencils I have ever seen. The body is a bit slippery, the mechanism is noisy (and you can feel a kind of small jolt each time you advance the lead), the system used to block the eraser looks really cheap, even for a simple MP (for which you await a minimum of user-friendly choices or ideas) and the conic form of the body makes that you have to place your finger a bit far from the tip to write efficiently with the Core. Even the lead sleeve is hard to retract back inside the tip (you'd better not use your finger). There is absolutely nothing that I find "pleasant" in this MP. A real disappointment for a Rotring, even if I am not impressed by their mechanical pencils in general.

Mark Brockman said...

I can't comment on the action of the pencil mech, but I own the ball point and fountain pen of the Core Lysium series. They're the same as the Teknor, but a grey/faded turquoise look.

You can't put these in a shirt pocket because (1) the clip is horrible, (2) it's obscenely top heavy, and (3) worst of all is that the plunger makes it look like you have a AA battery sticking out of some bizarre container.

But the Core Lysium fountain pen rocks.

Anonymous said...

These Rotring Core MP's have gotten rather cheap... they must have made a huge lot of them, seeing as they're still easy to obtain. And I guess that telegraphs what you discovered, Dave--it's a mediocre writing instrument.

I was going to pick up one "just for the heck of it", but I'll pass... on the other end, I got a Core fountain pen. It was $9.99 shipped. It's a weird writing instrument, but for the price it's worth getting. :-)

Time Waster said...

I'm going to pick one of these up despite being 7mm lead they have them cheap on ebay like Gary said.

Time Waster said...

Hey these are no longer being made =) gasp! The were replaced by the Rotring Skynn which doesn't seem to have a mech pencils just pens.
The reasoning for the cheap prices they have a orange Aqua and the one pictured above on ebay for 6.50-7.50 depending on dealer =)

Time Waster said...

I got my hands on a technor rollerball wow is this thing nice also picked up Skynn since they were only 4.00 on ebay. The skynn has a nice rubber grip but I find it obstructs from the fuction of the rollerball. Both of these rollerballs take da schmidt 888 refills which are not waterproof but really slick.